At long last, Tom DeLonge and Blink-182 are back together again. After months of rumblings, the guitarist reunited with Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, and fans of the pop-punk pioneers couldn’t be happier.
The band’s co-founding guitarist has been out of the lineup since 2015, replaced during that stretch by Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba. But now — after years of headline drama, rumors, and bassist Mark Hoppus’ cancer battle — the classic lineup is returning in 2023 for both a massive world tour and their first album since 2011. (Skiba, Hoppus, and drummer Travis Barker recorded two LPs together: 2016’s California and 2019’s Nine.)
For all our excitement about the future, the reunion naturally brings a lot of nostalgia. Looking back, some of Blink’s best work has come from their deep cuts, once you’ve gotten past hits like “Dammit,” “What’s My Age Again?,” and “Feeling This.” In light of the big news, let’s revisit some underrated gems that aren’t really brought up as often as “All the Small Things” or “The Rock Show.”
These 10 lesser-known songs, arranged chronologically, get to the heart of what Blink was about: showcasing their heart, humor, and quality musicianship. Consider it a sample of Blink’s back pages.
“Touchdown Boy” (Cheshire Cat)
You can’t have early Blink without a little low-brow humor, and this is probably the most juvenile song from that time. “Touchdown Boy” may be about a promiscuous jock, but the kicker is the breakdown where Hoppus and DeLonge practically do play-by-play on a guy who is, shall we say, very loyal to his bone. Stay classy, guys…you’ve got a long road ahead of you.
“Emo” (Dude Ranch)
Blink never wanted to be confined, even when they were making straight-ahead pop-punk. DeLonge was always reaching for new influences, and “Emo” was written as a tribute to Jimmy Eat World, with the same heart-on-sleeve lyrics that you expect from that genre’s old-school wave. We’re a ways away from MCR, but the song’s premise of settling for someone who doesn’t love you foreshadowed emotional anthems like “I Miss You.”
“Wendy Clear” (Enema of the State)
Ah, yes…back in the band’s American Pie era, when Hoppus could talk about charming his girlfriend by going on a boat for the weekend. This might be one of his most perfect melodies, even during the bassist’s anti-solo, when his bandmates drop out during the second verse. Romance may have gotten a lot more complicated once the self-titled rolled around, but Blink still found time for silly love songs on Enema of the State. “Wendy Clear” is their best in that vein not called “All the Small Things.”
“Give Me One Good Reason” (Take Off Your Pants and Jacket)
Many of the great pop-punk songs are about rallying against your parents. No one really talked about what to do once the rebellion was over, though. “Give Me One Good Reason” is about the future, with DeLonge vowing not to be like his parents or the cool kids around him. Not fitting in, fighting against the adults, and looking for somewhere better? This is practically a pop-punk answer to “Come On Eileen.”
“Reckless Abandon” (Take Off Your Pants and Jacket)
If Green Day were the first pop-punk band, songs like “Reckless Abandon” made Blink the most authentic one. While other groups just wanted to whine about their internal angst, Blink were all about finding a way out of your problems — and here they simply reminisced about days when they didn’t have a damn thing to worry about. You can never go back to the era of “Dumpweed” and “Dammit,” but we’ll always have these songs to remember them by.
“Asthenia” (Blink 182)
Blink-182 might be the closest thing to an emo album they ever made. DeLonge worked with The Cure’s Robert Smith on “All of This,” and he seemed to tap into that same type of heartache here, wondering if he should go back to his old flame and having to settle for holding onto her memory. Blink may have been a happy-go-lucky band once upon a time, but some of their best songs paint a smile on the most heartbreaking situations.
“Easy Target” (Blink-182)
Blink have been known as the poster children for all things pop-punk, but they really emphasized that punk side — at least emotionally — on the self-titled record. Sure, they flirted with alternative and pop styles, but this kind of raw anger comes from the dark side of romance, sounding closer to early Social Distortion than New Found Glory. Change was in the air for Blink at this point, and this is the kind of groove that reaches Nirvana levels of heavy.
“Fighting the Gravity” (Neighborhoods bonus track)
Neighborhoods tends to get pegged as the reunion album no one wanted, but blending Angels and Airwaves with Blink actually works on bonus track “Fighting the Gravity.” Since Hoppus has a much lower register, the song’s haunting atmosphere feels a lot more disturbing, especially when that outro hits and everything caves in on itself.
“Ghost on the Dance Floor” (Neighborhoods)
After Barker’s plane crash and the death of their friend DJ AM, Blink were going to have to plow through a lot of baggage to even make a record like Neighborhoods. This track, staged live as a tribute to AM, might be the record’s most heartfelt moment. DeLonge’s dream might not be real by song’s end, but “Ghost on the Dance Floor” isn’t just about mourning someone’s death — it’s also about celebrating their life.
“When I Was Young” (Dogs Eating Dogs EP)
The Dogs Eating Dogs EP might get lost in the shuffle, but the first germs of new Blink after Neighborhoods were much more epic, sounding like pop-punk entering the world of arena rock. Even if this song is a little melancholy, DeLonge’s chorus about moving forward feels like the self-titled and Neighborhoods rolled into one, processing that internal angst and finding a way to move past the heartache. Growing up may be considered a taboo topic in pop-punk circles, but this is a song about becoming stronger than you were back in the day. It better be on their setlist at When We Were Young.